20 December 2010

Greek Biriki, Cyma restaurants

Sorry, the froth was all gone by the time I remembered to take a photo

I was warned it would be stronger than the usual, and they made it sound like a disclaimer. And it looked very strong, but it was very good.

Cyma's Greek Espresso is an ideal end to what has only been wonderful, satisfying, glorious, and delightful food, so far. We love dining at this restaurant, save for the long queues and the occasionally startling, "Opa!" exclamations by the wait staff.

The Greek Briki is served in a demitasse (see photo , I positioned the cup next to my husband's hand to illustrate the size), and they discourage taking it with creamer or milk. Take their word for it -- a "shot" is all you need and the coffee is good and flavorful as is.

13 December 2010

18 Days Robusta Coffee

I saw a Bote Central booth at a recent visit to the weekend food fest  Mercato Centrale. Highly recommended by the market's organizers, Bote Central is the group behind the much-hyped and highly-priced Coffee Alamid. Although I curiously browsed their display of the beans, as "discarded" by the Civet,and politely listened to them talk about the process, I was still unconvinced Alamid coffee would enhance my life. 

But... I was delighted to discover their 18 Days Coffee.  The beans are roasted and ground on a certain date, then you have to consume it within -- you guessed it, 18 DAYS. This ensures you have the beverage at its best. They come in small packs once ground, perhaps to discourage overstocking. I tried a cup of the Robusta variant on the spot, and loved it.

I brought home a pack to use on my drip-style coffee maker, wondering why they instructed to use a teaspoon per cup. True enough, my brew was too light and watery.  I took it up on my next weekend visit at Mercato and was told that the ratio was not meant for drip type coffee makers, which I use more often at home. Ok. Got it... and got another pack while I was there. 

I'm now on my second pack, which is actually going fast. I'm not sorry I bought it, especially since it doesn't cost that much. Can't wait for Mercato Centrale to go back to business in January 2011.

note:  Bote Central no longer takes part in the weekend market. Their coffee can be savored and/or purchased at the Alamid Cafe Xpress inside R.O.X. at the Bonifacio Hi Street.

24 November 2010

Luxe -- a cafe!

Did you know that "Luxe" -- that metal signage on dark wood background along Shaw Boulevard -- is Goldilocks Bakeshop's cafe? I didn't.

Work found me somewhere near there with about half an hour to waste before my husband would arrive to pick me up. I thought I'd get a slice of Egg Pie, one of my comfort food faves, while I wait. In the brightly fluorescent-lit canteen-like bustling shop, I wondered if they had coffee to go with the pastry. The lady at the counter helpfully suggested trying their "gourmet" coffee next door. Wha???

Only briefly noticing the signage as I approached, I thought it was some condo sales office/showroom. And since parked cars blocked part of their sign (the part that mentions, "by Goldilocks) and huge window showcasing fondant cakes and petit fours, you can't blame me for my ignorance. 

So, in I went, happy to be allowed to take my plastic-wrapped slice of Egg Pie with me, and ordered a cup of coffee. I appreciated waiting in the warmly-lit, comfort of the smaller but definitely more posh place, with a counter of mini cheesecakes, mamon cakes (but, of course!), petit-fours, candied nuts and fancy boxes tempting me. It was a nice respite from the traffic noise of Shaw Boulevard and a better place to hang out than the bigger one next door. I got my hot cup of brew, straight from an espresso machine into... a styro cup with matching packets of Goldilocks-branded sugar and creamer. Awww. They should've gone posh all the way. 

All in all, I was happy with my beverage and grateful to be allowed to enjoy it with my yummy as ever slice of egg pie. Oh, don't forget, I got a fork to eat it from the plastic package with -- posh.

Now I know. http://www.luxebygoldilocks.com.ph/index.php/about_us

24 July 2010

All coffees at Travel Cafe

This cafe has been in Greenbelt 5, Makati, for some time now, but I only got the chance to try their coffee when I had a meeting there early this year. I've been back several times after that.

An initiative of the Department of Tourism, the cafe promotes the Philippines through coffee. They also promote and serve organically grown Fair Trade Philippine Coffee as their core beverage (so it says on the leaflet). How Filipino do they get? Their white walls are actually stamped with Baybayin, our ancestors' alphabet.

They have a choice of local coffees, including the Civet coffee, I was told.  I've tried the three basic -- Mount Matutum, Cordillera (both Arabica), and Premium Barako Blend (Liberica-Arabica). They are all very good and impressively served in a coffee press that comes with a sand timer in their earthenware set -- tray, cup, saucer, milk cup, sugar bowl, etc. -- and a cookie. My favorite has to be the Cordillera.

The place is relaxing, with a choice of low and relaxing tables and chairs, higher sets, warm lighting, and muted music. It doesn't get very noisy, even when bustling with customers. I will definitely suggest this cafe for my next meetings in the area or when taking a break from shopping, so I can have their coffee and yummy Pinoy desserts -- try the quezo de bola cheesecake and the suman with tsokolate -- again and again.

21 July 2010

Old Manila restaurant, the Peninsula Manila

Because the popular hotel Lobby is a popular hangout with excellent options for coffee , and options for lunch, merienda, and post-night-out chilling or sobering up, 

25 June 2010

Coffee Chemistry

You have to find something good out of every potentially traumatic experience. A hospital visit. A trip to the supermarket. No? Try going on a payday, during holidays, or to high-traffic ones like Landmark Supermarket at Trinoma.

What good can wipe out the bad from grocery shopping there on a bad day? Coffee. Make that, coffee to the rescue! Do I sound like I'm madly addicted to coffee? There's comfort and strength to get from a no-nonsense dose of caffeine before reviewing your grocery list, or after that harrowing experience of lining up and paying for your essentials. Relatively low prices alone aren't enough reason to venture into a supermarket when it's crowded.

A few steps from Landmark Supermarket at Trinoma's basement is the refreshing and welcome sight of Coffee Chemistry's counter. Yes, there are no easy chairs and couches, just the fast food area's typical fixed swivel-y hard dining sets. But easy chairs and couches aren't what you're on that floor for anyway, right?

Coffee Chemistry uses the siphoning technique to give us three of their specialty brews: Morning Blend for a kick, Afternoon Medley to cap a meal, and Midnight Express to savour the goodness of coffee. If I recall, those would translate to strong, medium, and mild, respectively. I've tried all three -- at separate times -- and they're all good AND affordable at P39.00. Good enough for my purpose there. I have yet to try their iced and blended offerings.

If you are, indeed, at that particular mall for your daily essentials, it's a treat not to have to walk to the nearest cafe, which would be crowded anyway. I hope enough people patronize the place so the gem of their coffee would always be a comforting prospect to associate with grocery shopping at Landmark Trinoma.

True, there are cafes near my other grocery faves like Unimart in Greenhills, outside nearly every Rustan's supermarket (but of course), but this one just leaps right out of the fast food melee calling out to you, and I, for one, can't say no to trying something new and not regretting it.

21 May 2010

UCC brews

The UCC House Blend

A good number of my clients and siblings like dining in UCC restaurants and cafes, so I've had several opportunities to enjoy their coffee. Because their coffee is relatively expensive for the regular-sized cup they come in, especially if you're having a meal as well, I've stuck to the basics. 

They have the "light" UCC House Blend at P109.00, their "moderate" UCC Blend at P139.00, and their strong brew, Sumiyaki, at P169.00. All three are are siphoned -- within full view at the beverage counter -- and watching them prepare the coffee makes you just a wee bit more excited to have a taste. As promised, these variants are "full bodied coffee with perfect levels of acidity, aroma, and smooth flavor intensity". 

They use the siphon method and serve it freshly-made.

I've gone back several times, even on my own, of course, and even tried having a second and third cup when I had to hang out with a book once. I was coffee-solved for the day *tremors*, haha.

Nothing like lingering in a cafe with a coffee buddy like my sis.

14 May 2010

Exotic Blend Coffee, Greenbean Organic Coffee Co.

It's no longer a treat to get good coffee in hospital premises, and that is really super. For years, I've had to take those from vending machines, mostly Nescafe and even more of instant concoctions from the canteens and cafeterias. But good hospitals know how much good coffee is appreciated, if not by patients, then by their companions. 

I discovered GreenBean Organic Coffee at the ground flr of St. Luke's Medical Center CHBC in Q.C. The coffee is good enough, and certainly a lot better than instant or brewed but sitting for hours in some hospital restaurants. Their coffee -- Exotic Blend and Organic Decaf -- is imported from the Irving Farm Coffee Co. in NY, U.S.A., and served always freshly brewed, hot or ice blended, with creamer, milk, or soya. Your choice.

I just think it's so appropriate to have organic stuff in a place promoting wellness. Bravo to Dr. Bunagan who I was told owns the coffee station. How about going all the way and serving the coffee in recycled paper cups?

I tried the iced version, too.

15 April 2010

Tokyo Cafe

For me, if a restaurant has the word "cafe" in its name, it has to have coffee. Good coffee, at the very least. Even if they've added the word to mean casual dining or to communicate the "diner" experience.

Although not the highlight of their menu (get ready, they don't serve traditional Japanese food) -- good chicken, steaks, pasta, pizza (they have salmon for the last 2, yes!), salads, and sandwiches -- Tokyo Cafe does have coffee. Very good coffee. I love eating at a restaurant that gives diners the added pleasure of staying in an extra half hour to cap a meal with their own house brew. Imagine how much nicer if they have a list of coffees! It's become a habit to move to another venue for coffee, but I give an extra star for those that proudly offer their own good brew in the menu. In the case of Tokyo Cafe, they really should, anyway.

They have other variants, but I've only tried the three brewed coffees: Tokyo Blend, a sweet and "mild" brew, their "sour-ish" House Blend, and their strong Sumibi Yaki, all very good, which makes me always wish they offered refills. Just like their food, the coffee is not cheap at P89.00, but considering you won't need to line up and order a more expensive cup at the nearest popular coffee stop, it's not too bad.
It wouldn't be my usual choice, but instead of a cup of brew, one can opt to end a meal with a light coffee dessert -- i.e., coffee in some other form. Refreshing and light, their cold coffee jelly is served topped with whipped cream. 

Have that after their big servings of their entrees, and have the same buzz as a cup of freshly brewed coffee... if something cold is what gives you comfort after a meal. Not bad, at P38.

I've only eaten in their branch at The Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill, at the Fort, but I've seen them sprouting up in restaurant clusters and malls. I have had no regrets, so far. 

06 February 2010

Coffee Jelly dessert at Mesa

It was an extremely warm day, and as much as I wanted iced coffee to cap the sumptious Filipino lunch with my work-mates, I went with the next-best option: Coffee Jelly with Vanilla ice cream. Just the right amount in a martini glass, that I could still enjoy it on a full stomach. It had the bonus of two wafer sticks (barquillos), so that there was a mix of rich & creamy, delightful crunch, and light & refreshing caffeine in every spoonful. Yum. 

21 January 2010

Brewed Coffee, Sonia's Cupcakes

oops, missed taking a shot while the froth was still set
Nothing can be worse than a pastry or confectioner's shop serving bad coffee, or none at all. That's a fab detail Sonia didn't leave out. I wouldn't have dared having any of Sonia's delectable-looking cupcakes with their choice of toppings, had I not noticed the choices of coffee they had on their menu board. (Great job!)

So I tried their house brew. They serve Lavazza coffee and the blend and variant they served was just so good. The right strength and flavor to go with the sweetness of their specialty cupcakes. Great idea!  so got one teeny-tiny cupcake -- not the ones with butter icing *shudder* or whatever else they top most of the cupcakes with, but a cheesecake swirl (sorry, couldn't remember what it was called) to compliment my coffee. If you haven't tried the pastries or even visited the place, Sonia's Cupcakes is at Serendra, The Fort, Taguig. You'll have to burn all that sugar, might as well join the runners in that area after.

02 January 2010

Philippine Mountain Coffee/The Charcoal Roasted Coffee

Tiendesitas is along C5 in Pasig
In the dining area of Tiendesitas, the sprawling split-level open-air shopping, leisure, dining center that boasts of local specialties, is a stall proudly selling brewed coffee and bags of coffee beans.  For their brew, they offer three variants sourced from different mountainous parts of the country:

  1. Mild coffee from Malay-Balay, 
  2. Medium-strength from Tagaytay
  3. Strong from Kalinga 
I've tried both the Tagaytay and the Kalinga coffees, brewed on the spot with a drip-type coffeemaker, and served in a no-nonsense mug with matching ceramic jars for powdered creamer, brown sugar, and plastic stirrer. 

Although lacking in presentation and customer service, I thought the coffee can stand on its own -- each cup fresh, hot, and full-flavored.  Yet, in spite of the good beverage in front of me, I sat sipping forlornly in one of their upholstered metal garden-type sets, because it was a humid day, I was surrounded by pet stores and dogs "malling" with their proud owners, therefore sniffling with allergic rhinitis, and Tiendesitas' dining area was noisy (which is common). I suddently sort of longed for the lively banter and eye contact one could always count on from chirpy and expert baristas. I guess after sampling which coffee variant you'd like more, I'd say get a pack to go because this coffee is best brewed and enjoyed at home.